Early days in a new city

A road trip from 49.2827 N, 123.1207 W to 53.9171 N, 122.7497 W is an interesting one. Prior to my move up from Vancouver, I have a distinct memory of discussing the population of Prince George, of all things. It's funny how an inconsequential conversation has become so important over the years.

I set out early on a Saturday morning in my 1988 Topaz, packed to the brim with worldly possessions and my cat Sydney. He lasted on my lap until just before Cache Creek, when he suddenly slid down into what seemed like the depths of the undercarriage.

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After a long drive filled with excitement and anticipation, tempered with fear of the unknown and spruce bog, I was suddenly heading down Sintich hill into Prince George. The sun had set an hour before and the city seemed dark for a population of 80,000.

Where was the city anyway? Why weren't there any street lights? There were no houses, businesses or people. I asked myself over and over, 'What have I done?'

I was lost, driving in circles when I realized I had turned off the highway too soon and was in the BCR Industrial site!

A natural consequence of impatience. I suppose. How different this landscape would be if West Coast Olefins is able to navigate the opposition. Finding Prince George on the first try will be a piece of cake.

Finally, I made it into the downtown core and was immediately taken aback by the five cent parking meters, recognizing little else until I saw The Keg. At last, a familiar place to take refuge. Thankfully, there was a pay phone just inside the door. I desperately tried to call my employer about the promised prearranged accommodations.

No answer.

I tried the Pioneer Apartments. No answer anywhere; it was too late.

Exhausted, I chose to stay next door to my apparent apartment in the Economy Inn. After fifteen minutes of prying Sydney, now the pancake cat, from under the car seat, we could rest at last.

Sleep came quickly, when suddenly out of nowhere I was jarred awake by the loudest thunder I had ever heard. Regular, persistent crashing that went on and on, but no rain. The next morning the nice lady at the counter explained it was the trains, and that it happens regularly.

Welcome to Prince George!

I finally settled into my new Pioneer apartment. The train thunder had faded into white noise as I watched rented VHS videos, while Sydney lounged on the cool tiles in the June heat. Slowly I acquainted myself with Third Avenue as I walked to work. Mr. Jake's, Home Hardware and the dry cleaner further down. Phil was so funny in his year round flip flops and Bermuda shorts. Every time I came by he threatened to keep my clothes and make me wash his floors by hand if my cheque bounced.

My Third Avenue office was situated in the back of a second floor office mall. It had a small window high up on the back wall that was just large enough to display hydro wires and sky. It was a window that would work perfectly in a prison cell.

On cloudy days, I was lonely and depressed, and I couldn't wait for this job to end. But there were sunny days too, and before long I met two of the most loving friends I have ever known and will forever be grateful for. Their presence changed the latitude of my spirit and the trajectory of my life.

Now, when I now reflect on my move to Prince George over 20 years ago, I know deep down that it was a journey of the heart.

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